Vancouver Canucks: Expectations for Adam Gaudette in 2019-20

Adam Gaudette had a season where he looked good, but didn’t enjoy the same success as another Vancouver Canucks rookie. Let’s take a look at what we can expect from Gaudette heading into next year.

After wrapping up his third season at Northeastern University, Adam Gaudette made his Vancouver Canucks debut at the end of the 2017-18 season, where he played five games. Despite having an outstanding season in the NCAA, where he scored 30 goals and picked up 30 assists in 38 games, good enough to win the Hobey Baker Award — given to the NCAA’s top player — Gaudette didn’t have instant success with the Canucks.

In the five games at the end of 2017-18, Gaudette failed to record a point. Canucks head coach Travis Green, however, was happy with Gaudette’s play. Right from the get-go, Green tampered expectations for the then Hobey Baker finalist, saying, “He doesn’t have to be Brock Boeser. He just has to be himself.”

Despite failing to get his name on the scoresheet, Green was happy with Gaudette’s play, and noted that Gaudette was improving with each and every game, and that’s all the Canucks could hope for out of their young prospect.

In 2018-19, expectations for Gaudette heading into training camp weren’t extremely high. Even though Gaudette himself was an exciting young prospect, he was a less talked about subject because Swedish wonder kid Elias Pettersson had just arrived in Vancouver after his historical season with the Vaxjo Lakers of the Swedish Hockey League.

Gaudette started the year in the AHL with the Utica Comets, but was called up shortly thereafter on October 15th when two centers, Pettersson and Jay Beagle, went down with injuries in the same game against the Florida Panthers. As a result, both Bo Horvat and Gaudette were tasked with playing more defensive roles than they were used to.

Horvat really showed he’s capable of playing against opposing team’s top lines in a shutdown role, and Gaudette showed great signs of improvement with each game he played. When the centers got healthy again, Gaudette returned to the Comets, where he continued to show well. When more injuries struck, Gaudette was recalled again, this time, in a bit of a more offensive role.

Unfortunately for Gaudette,  he didn’t record a point in the final 14 games of the season, and didn’t seem to be playing his best hockey. He may benefit from some more time with the Comets next year, but he may have no other option, as the Canucks have four centers already, none of whom are going to get sent down.

If the team doesn’t trade Brandon Sutter, then Gaudette will most likely be forced to start the year in the AHL. Let’s hope that Gaudette gives management no choice but to make room for him with an impressive training camp. No matter what happens, Gaudette will be the first person called upon if a center goes down with an injury.

This is going to be a huge preseason for Gaudette, and he needs to come extremely well prepared if he wants to challenge for a spot and be in the lineup come opening night. There’s also the potential for Gaudette to slide over to the wing, but again, he will have to show extremely well in training camp to earn a spot even on the wing.

What can we expect from Gaudette next year? We hope he comes into camp and makes management need to make a tough decision similar to the one they made with Sam Gagner this season, when they buried his contract in the AHL to make room for Nikolay Goldobin. If that doesn’t happen, we can expect Gaudette to go tear it up in Utica and hopefully continue to develop into a solid centerman in the NHL.